Morrissey - You Have Killed Me

Emily Tartanella 27/03/2006

Rating: 4/5

Really, there's no need for a history lesson. But here's a brief precise: Good old Morrissey seemed to have settled down into his Norma Desmond routine when out comes You Are the Quarry, up goes his indie cred, and faster than you can say “bona drag,” the world remembers what got them into forlorn pop songs in the first place. A couple hit singles and one move to Rome later, and legions of fans await the new album Ringleader of the Tormentors. Which brings us to its first, eagerly-anticipated single.

So I've got my fingers crossed, hoping that You Are The Quarry wasn't some ephemeral dream. After all, Morrissey, that master of self-sabotage, could just as easily pop out another “Our Frank” and retire to his Roman café with a knowing grin. With 2004's 'comeback,' there was always the chance he had started something he couldn't finish; we've seen half-hearted career resurrections before (The Tears, anyone?) but Morrissey, cerebral he may be, has never lacked heart.

And wouldn't you know it, that light refuses to go out.

Now the Mozfather himself returns with nothing less than a reward for the faithful in the form of “You Have Killed Me.” Terrible title aside, it's an invigorating enigma, a mix of passion and loathing, all in a swirling texture most reminiscent of 1994's Vauxhall & I - not to mention its teasing fodder for the “closet” debate (“I entered nothing and nothing entered me/ 'Till you came with the key.”)

Still as tantalizingly perverse as always, flirting with camp sensuality while remaining defiantly, deliberately chaste, Mozza may have found love but not in the “You're Beautiful” vein. Instead he's dragged kicking and screaming into desire, bemoaning that “as I live and breathe, you have killed me.” With those few, simple words, he hits on the utterly gut-punching sensation of falling in love, in all its ambivalent glory. Morrissey isn't just ambiguous about who he loves, he's ambiguous about how he loves - and be it through joy or melancholia, his desires are anything but clear cut

The killer isn't really the lyrics (the Italian references get stale after a while) but that voice, the old, haunting, tremulous cry - still bitter after all these years. And no, it's not breaking musical ground, but there's something fundamentally reassuring about it; like your mother's homemade spaghetti, it brings back memories of a carefree youth - or even a youth spent huddled under blankets listening to The Queen is Dead. But whether it's the memory we're applauding or not, this is at heart a spine-tingling song guaranteed to put the 'hope' back in 'hopeless romantic.'